Date Thesis Awarded

5-2020

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)

Department

American Studies

Advisor

Leisa Meyer

Committee Members

Jay Watkins III

Charles McGovern

Abstract

Appalachian people often struggle to see their stories properly represented and preserved by academics, politicians, and the media. This is doubly true for queer Appalachian people, who often face violent erasure on local and national levels. As a result, many queer Appalachians take matters of cultural preservation into their own hands. By drawing from a series of oral histories conducted with LGBTQ+ Appalachian artists, archivists, and activists, this thesis provides an analysis of the ways in which queer Appalachian people blur the lines between these three processes to more effectively work towards their own liberation. In addition to these oral histories, the thesis engages with a variety of primary source texts ranging from paintings and photographs to the zines and Instagram page of the Queer Appalachia Project. To contextualize these contemporary examples in the broader course of queer Appalachian history, the thesis also looks to the work of mid-century queer collectives like the Pagan Babies of Lexington and eastern Kentucky. Along with these primary source texts, the thesis utilizes contemporary rural queer scholarship by scholars such as Mary Gray, Colin Johnson, and John Howard as well as queer community studies like the work of Horacio Roque Ramirez and George Chauncey. Through this research, this thesis aims to include Appalachia more overtly in the growing field of queer rural studies while also providing a platform for the voices of queer people often overlooked both within and outside Appalachia.

Available for download on Sunday, May 08, 2022

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